Michael Albert Silver is the eldest child and only son of Albert and Michaela Silver. Best known today as the co-creator (alongside his cousin Matt) of the popular comic book series The Children of Judas, he is also a tenured professor of illustration at the University of Hawaiʻi.
In the mid- to late-90s, he gained notoriety in New England as the frontman of the popular Boston band Gideon’s Bible. His tumultuous relationship with Bible guitarist Robin Gates led to the group’s downfall in January 1998, but it was out of the ashes of that romance that Michael found the love of his life: college classmate Jenna Worthing.
And yet, because—as his sister Ashley once observed—Michael has never been able to say no to a pretty girl in his life, the man was eventually put on trial for his “crimes against femininity” in the novel The Boot of Destiny.
Appearance & Personality
In Boot, Robin describes Michael as “the best kind of handsome: the kind that doesn’t know it yet, and maybe never will.” But while some, such as Robin, find his effortless good looks an irresistable quality, others think of Michael as the most irritating kind of attractive: the kind that can roll out of bed, looking like a hot mess, and still make people swoon.
His eyes are thought by many to be his best feature. Shifting color depending on the light, they are a perfect metaphor for his generally flighty nature. Blue one minute, green the next, and hazel the moment after that, Michael’s eyes are as noncommital as he is.
Other than his preternaturally pretty peepers, Michael’s other defining physical characteristics are his feet—a feature his wife Jenna has said she would kill for. With his marvelous arches, his insane flexibility, and the fact that the first three toes on each of his feet are almost all the same length, he could have danced en pointe—damn the gender stereotypes!—if only he had an ounce of coordination.
Personality-wise, Michael is notoriously self-centered and self-involved. Most don’t notice this, as he’s also a genuinely kind, gentle, and jovial soul, but it often gets him into trouble with those closest to him—Jenna moreso than anyone else. Ultimately, Michael has a hard time getting out of his own head and seeing things from the perspective of others. But he wants to get better at this, and he keeps trying, and that counts for something.
Warning: Here there be spoilers.
Michael was born at the General Hospital in Lowell, Massachusetts on October 5, 1977, to a father who had just been hired for his dream job and a mother who was about to start work on her MD. He was the couple’s first child, and their attempts to balance their personal and professional ambitions would play a huge role in who Michael grew up to be.
The boy’s first years of life were blissful. He benefitted greatly from living upstairs from his paternal grandparents, Eli and Edna Silver, and from having a doting aunt who lived in her own house just across the driveway. If his parents were both busy—one with class and the other working a late shift, for instance—there were plenty of other adults around to watch over him. And with cousins Matt and Veronica living just across the yard, there was no shortage of playmates once Michael started toddling around.
He was a goofy, extroverted kid in those first years, always hamming it up for the camera and doing his best to make people laugh. But that all changed with the arrival, in 1979, of his younger sister Ashley.
Ash was a handful from the start, relishing in her ability to cause trouble and in her talent for making her big brother squirm. Whether it was waking him up from a nap by shaking a soiled diaper in his face or nearly getting herself killed by riding her big wheel out in front of the school bus on Michael’s first day of kindergarten, Ashley delighted in stealing the spotlight from her older brother. And it was because of this that the conflict-averse Michael retreated into the shadows for the rest of his childhood, creeping back into the shell no one realized he had.
But it wasn’t Ashley alone who turned Michael’s world upside down. The death of his grandmother Edna in 1982 was another major blow. Not only did he lose the grandmother who’d been like a second mom to him for the first five years of his life, but the death of the family’s matriarch splintered the once tight-knit Silver clan and sent them all off in different directions.
Grief-stricken Grampy Silver moved down the Cape and made his summer home his new full-time residence. Then Michael’s Uncle Rob, unable to keep looking at the house where his mother had died, packed up Auntie Lyd, Matt, and Veronica and move them across town.
Left alone in a house that felt far emptier than before, with no one but his distracted and workaholic parents to defend him from Ashley, Michael took to walking their yard and telling stories to himself. Eventually he befriended the boy whose family moved into his aunt and uncle’s old house, a boy called Billy Mills, but even that friendship was a small comfort for the kid who’d started off life thinking he had it made—and who now felt like every day was a test, a pop quiz he was forever in danger of failing.
Michael’s childhood ended, for all intents and purposes, on August 31, 1989—Ashley’s tenth birthday, and the day of their family’s Great Schism. Bearing witness to his cousin Matt’s disastrous coming out, and to the terrible aftermath of that event, the soon-to-be twelve-year-old Michael decided he would never take a risk as big as Matt had. Never ever. And he settled into a life of careful planning and plotting, where every move had to be thought and overthought before taking action.
When puberty struck Michael Silver, with all of the hormones and awkwardness which accompany that most transitory and tragic phase of life, it struck hard. This was most apparent in his hopeless fascination with his cousin Veronica’s best friend—and future wife—Desiree Emerson, but Michael’s wandering eye lingered on a great many people during those years. As he delved deeper and deeper into a childhood fascination with illustration, he came to obsess over the beauty of the human form in all its shapes and sizes. Yes, he was a horny young kid. But he was also beginning his study of the very thing that would be the subject of his art for years to come.
The human body aside, Michael’s greatest obsession in those years was his growing comic book collection. Together with his sister, he shopped at the local Chelmsford store The Splash Page and came to be good friends with the couple who ran the place (Eddie Osborn and Alice Coover). His love for the artists Jim Lee, Mark Bagley, and Joseph Michael Linsner would persist for years and years, but in the early going he was fairly indiscriminate in choosing which series to read. This led to a ballooning collection of long cardboard boxes in his closet, each of them stuffed with books he simply “had to have” for later reference.
It was in these mid-teenage years that he also began to develop an interest in the work of his late great aunt Dottie Silver, a painter who Michael came to believe had led a double life as the 1940s comic book and pinup artist Nick Gold. Encouraged by his grandfather (Dottie’s brother Eli) and by Dottie’s son Anthony Gold to dig through the crates and crates of canvases left behind after Dottie’s death, Michael spent many a long weekend in the barn at Grampy’s house—and huge chunks of each summer, eventually quitting Boy Scouts to spend even more time studying and painting down the Cape.
This led, happily, to a newfound closeness with his cousin Matt, who had been taken in by Grampy after the family’s Great Schism in 1989. It also led to an even more intense relationship with Grampy himself, who prodded young Michael to push his art to its limits. Grampy saw Michael as a second chance to nourish the talent that he thought had been squandered with Dottie’s early death, and that led to an incredible bond.
A bond that was broken—shattered—when Gramp died on April 9, 1994.
Of the grandchildren, only Matt took the loss harder than Michael—and Matt had been living under Grampy’s roof for nearly five years at that point. In fact, Michael was still mourning and mourning hard when the calendar turned to 1995. Struggling to paint anything that lived up to the grand expectations he believed his grandfather had for him, Michael nearly missed a concert on January 5 of that year—a concert he and his friend David Johnson had been waiting for for months: Nine Inch Nails at the Worcester Centrum.
It was a show that would change the course of Michael’s life for good and all, for it was at this concert that Michael fell for Robin Gates—the girl his friend David had been crushing on for months.
Michael and Robin’s tumultuous relationship would begin on poor, pining David’s porch; would be cemented when they sang the song “Reptile” to each other that night, as people leapt over their heads to join the mosh pit below; and would continue for three years as they and their band Gideon’s Bible skyrocketed to local fame. They would vandalize nativity scenes together, relishing in their newfound atheism. They would blow the roof off their high school’s talent show for two years in a row. They would go to prom together, record a demo tape, and more.
And most of that was before Michael even turned 18.
Though his misadventures with Robin and Gideon’s Bible distracted him from his art, Michael still began work on his Bachelor’s degree that September at nearby Kimball College. And it was this, perhaps, which spelled the beginning of the end for Robin & Michael—even just nine months into a relationship that would last for years longer. Michael’s “divided loyalties” would be the cause for many conflicts over the next few years. He was torn not only between art and music, but also between David and Robin. And on that last score, the tension between the three ultimately resulted in the expulsion of David from the band—a band he had pitched to Robin before Michael had even entered the picture.
But it was not just Michael whose loyalties were divided. Robin began to fall for Michael’s sister Ashley, a friend of hers for years at this point. And when Ashley refused Robin’s cheatin’ heart, saying she wouldn’t play a part in hurting her brother—even if he was an asshole—Robin began looking elsewhere for someone or something to spice up her love life. This led, in late 1996, to an “Autumn of Anything Goes,” when Michael and Robin agreed to open up their relationship for a spell.
By Spring Break 1997, with Robin pushing Michael’s sexual boundaries more and more each month—including quickies in movie theaters and McDonald’s parking lots—the young man began to confide in the college classmate who had asked for a couch to crash on during their week away from school, so that she could keep working on campus instead of driving home to Maine. That classmate’s name? Jenna Worthing.
By the time of his family’s Summer 1997 trip to Walt Disney World, during which his sister proclaimed she was going to start stripping the day she turned 18, Michael was calling Jenna once a week—and calling Robin hardly at all, except to set up band practices or confirm upcoming gigs. And by January 1998, when Michael heard through the grapevine that Robin had been cheating on him with a drummer she’d met in her second year at Berklee College of Music, he didn’t need much excuse to break things off with Robin and start the relationship with Jenna that had been simmering for nearly a year.
The dissolution of Michael’s relationship with Robin was quickly followed by the final dissolution of Gideon’s Bible, which left Michael with some decisions to make regarding his future. He’d long harbored delusions that he could support his illustration habit by touring with the band, but now he had nothing to fall back on—nothing, that is, until his cousin’s husband Tim offered him a gig as employee #2 at an internet startup he was putting together.
That job as Tim’s lead designer would net Michael a small fortune in stock options by the time the company went public—money that would eventually allow him to quit working a day job and pursue the passion he’d so long delayed and deferred: art.
On April 28, 2001, Michael and Jenna married at the Silver family’s house on Cape Cod. A few months later, in September of that year, they moved to Hawaiʻi so that Michael could begin work on his Master’s in Illustration and the thesis that would eventually result in his first book: Cloth & Flesh: The Power of Juxtaposition in the Pinup Art of Nick Gold.
For a good, long while, it was smooth sailing for the couple. Though they struggled with infertility, they eventually decided to make the best of their childfree life and throw themselves into their careers, their marriage, and their support of their nieces—Tracy Silver among them. And yet, the words of Michael’s sister Ashley—the declaration that Michael could never say no to a pretty girl—eventually turned prophetic.
Over the course of the six years he was actively involved the in the Association for the Study of Sequential Art, Michael developed and increasingly close bond with the administrator of that organization—a woman named Carrie Armstrong.
Beginning with some innocent flirtation in New Orleans in November 2004, their friendship quickly blossomed into something more. Michael helped Carrie through a separation and divorce, Carrie helped Michael get over Robin’s murder in 2006, and the two of them became each other’s closest confidants. When a relieved Carrie kissed Michael on the lips during a Philadelphia downpour in 2008—in part to thank him for helping her solve a big problem at that year’s conference, and in part because she’d begun to fall for the guy—the stage was set for a turning point. And at the next year’s conference in Denver, Colorado, drinking heavily to diffuse the tension between them, the two ended up in bed together.
They were each so drunk that, when they woke up the next morning, they had no idea what happened. But the damage was done.
And yet, because Jenna had always been well aware of Michael’s wandering eye—and because he had always been honest with her, and was honest again now—the damage was not severe.
Until Carrie got in touch to say she was pregnant, that is.
Though a DNA test would prove that Michael was not the father, a visiting Tracy—who had flown to Hawaiʻi a day early for a college visit, and watched the scene between Michael, Jenna, and Carrie play out from the shadows—didn’t discover this until the following year, when she drugged Michael and put him on trial for his “crimes against femininity” (as seen in The Boot of Destiny).
Michael and Tracy eventually reconciled, with Tracy living under Michael and Jenna’s roof when she started her freshman year at the University of Hawaiʻi in September 2011. And Michael and Jenna got back to being Michael and Jenna, solidifying themselves alongside Veronica and her new wife Desiree as the bedrock of the next generation of Silvers. But the death of Ashley in 2013 (as seen in The Elixir of Denial) would shake the family to its core, and there were even more challenges beyond that.
Would Michael be up to the task? Stay tuned, and find out.
Behind the Scenes
Michael first appeared in E. Christopher Clark’s unpublished mid-90s comic book series Nightmare, as the alter ego of the titular super hero.
He has also appeared twice on stage, in plays by Clark.
In the March 1999 Bradford College production of The People vs. Jesus Christ, Michael was played by Robert DaPonte.
In the January 2014 Players’ Ring production of Temptress, Michael was played by E. Christopher Clark himself.
The author would like to thank Robert DaPonte for his contributions to the character, who would not be the same without his performance.